Buddhist Digital Resource Center Seeks Executive Director

Kurtis Schaeffer's picture

Buddhist Digital Resource Center seeks Executive Director

March 7, 2018

The Board of Directors of the Buddhist Digital Resource Center (BDRC, www.tbrc.org) invites nominations and applications for the position of Executive Director. The Buddhist Digital Resource Center is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to seeking out, preserving, organizing, and disseminating Buddhist literature. Joining digital technology with scholarship, BDRC ensures that cultural treasures of the Buddhist literary tradition are not lost, but are made available for future generations. Located in the thriving intellectual community of Cambridge, MA, BDRC seeks an Executive Director to forge new scholarly networks and funding pathways to sustain and expand its impact, reach, and relevance.

Applications and Nominations

Applications should include: a letter of intent, a C.V., and contact details for three professional references. All inquiries, nominations, and applications may be directed by email to: Kurtis R. Schaeffer, President, BDRC Board of Directors (ks6bb@virginia.edu), with the email title “BDRC Executive Director Search”. Review of candidates will begin immediately and will continue until the position is filled. To ensure full consideration, materials should be submitted no later than March 30, 2018. We intend the successful candidate to begin as Executive Director in July 2018.

Opportunities and Challenges

As a dynamic institution BDRC sustains a distinctive mission. Of particular importance to the Board are the following aspects of the Executive Director’s job:

Leadership. BDRC is engaged with a vibrant international community of scholars of Buddhism, translators of Buddhist texts, and Buddhist practitioners. We seek to develop this network and become better able to serve their needs while preserving the literary heritage of a profound wisdom tradition, making it available to present and future generations.

Management. Given the complex nature of the organization’s programs, strong leadership qualities are needed to manage a distributed group of team leaders and employees in software development, digitization operations, archiving and technical infrastructure, and library cataloging. Staff are located in: Cambridge, MA; Chengdu and Hangzhou, China; New Delhi, India; Taiwan; France;and Bangkok, Thailand.

Develop scholarly networks. To promote BDRC’s mission and sustain access to collections, the Executive Director will cultivate and expand scholarly networks in Buddhist Studies.

Develop funding sources. The Executive Director will manage existing funding sources, and chart new funding pathways to sustain current operations and programs.

Qualifications

 

  • Academic credentials including an advanced degree in Buddhist Studies and demonstrated Buddhist scholarship
  • Well-networked within the field of Buddhist studies
  • Fluency in Tibetan and competence in one or more of the following languages: Chinese, Pali, and Sanskrit
  • Experience as an organizational leader, with proven competence guiding strategic planning, institutional positioning, and team building
  • Demonstrated success in fiscal management
  • Appreciation for and interest in digital technology and emerging trends in library and information science
  • Experience expressing scholarly analysis with digital technology
  • Willingness and demonstrated ability to seek out financial resources in support of the organization; successful experience securing such support for research and/or academic programs
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills
  • Success in fundraising from government agencies, foundations, and/or private individuals is a plus
  • Energy, integrity, and a sense of humor

 

Background

BDRC was founded as Tibetan Buddhist Resource Center in 1999 by the eminent scholar E. Gene Smith (1936-2010). For the past eighteen years, BDRC has located, digitized, cataloged, and archived nearly 15 million pages of culturally significant works in Tibetan while developing cutting-edge technology for their lasting preservation and far-reaching accessibility.

BDRC has thus raised to a high level of preservation a significant part of the Tibetan literary corpus, once critically endangered. All digital facsimiles of manuscripts and texts and metadata resources are stored in a long-term preservation program at Harvard University Digital Repository Service.

The BDRC archive has become the premier digital resource serving an international community of academic scholars and religious leaders, as well as translators, publishers, and the interested public involved with Tibetan Buddhist texts. BDRC’s mission has had a major impact on the field of Tibetan Studies.

In 2014, BDRC won a significant cooperative award with a federal agency to establish a digitization program in China. With this award, BDRC has successfully digitized 5.4 million pages of Tibetan manuscripts, block-prints and bound books, and established operations in the region. This important relationship is managed in collaboration with the Buddhist Research and Resources Center of Zhejiang University (ZJU) in Hangzhou, China.

In 2015, the organization expanded its institutional mission to include the preservation and dissemination of Buddhist manuscripts and texts in languages beyond Tibetan. Due to shifting social and environmental factors, significant Buddhist manuscripts in many languages remain in a precarious state. The broadened mandate for BDRC was established in order to bring the expertise and resources of its eighteen-year history to bear on this most pressing task of preservation in the many languages in which Buddhism has been expressed, including Chinese, Sanskrit, Pali, and others. In July of 2016, the official name of Tibetan Buddhist Resource Center was changed to Buddhist Digital Resource Center to reflect the expanded mission.

Current Initiatives

Currently, BDRC is actively developing the Buddhist Universal Digital Archive (BUDA), a global platform that seeks to provide universal access to a curated corpus of culturally significant Buddhist texts in every language related to Buddhism. This is the first time in history that such an interconnected, wide-ranging reference will be made available. As the digital model allows the inclusion of texts in any language, scholars will be asked to curate the selection of culturally significant Buddhist works. BUDA will use linked open data to create scholarly research tools for Buddhist textual studies and to support a rich collaborative network for research projects.

BDRC is engaged in three key preservation programs, which are made possible with the funding support of a federal agency, the Khyentse Foundation and The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation: Tibetan text digitization in China, The Fragile Palm Leaves Digitization Project; and The Sanskrit and Chinese Buddhist Library Network. For detailed information on these projects, see below.

BDRC is at an exciting junction in its development and seeks a new Executive Director to cultivate and expand its networks and find funding sources for the next generation.

Current Initiatives in Detail

The Fragile Palm Leaves Digitization Project

The Fragile Palm Leaves Digitization Project is BDRC’s program to digitally preserve Peter Skilling’s collection of vulnerable Buddhist manuscripts in Bangkok, Thailand. The collection includes Buddhist texts in Pali as well as Burmese, Thai, Mon, and other languages. The project aims to ensure that the contents of the collection are preserved, cataloged, and made accessible for universal research and study.

The Sanskrit and Chinese Buddhist Library Network

The Sanskrit and Chinese Buddhist Library Network (SCBLN) is BDRC’s program that will connect significant collections of Sanskrit and Chinese Buddhist texts and build a suite of collaborative research tools to connect scholars with resources in the digital library network. The ultimate aim of the project is to engender new levels of scholarly exchange for Sanskrit and Chinese Buddhist literature, provide universal access, and contribute to the development of BDRC’s program that weaves together preservation, access, and collaborative networking. The technical framework for BUDA is being developed under the auspices of this program.

Tibetan Text Digitization in China

BDRC has been digitizing Tibetan texts since its inception in 1999. In 2014, it won a five-year award to preserve Tibetan manuscripts in China. The program, now in its 4th year, compliments BDRC digitization efforts in India.

The program seeks to create sustainable livelihoods for ethnic Tibetans in China by building a preservation network of digital preservation entrepreneurs with the latest technology, and ultimately, to inspire Tibetans to preserve their own culture by enriching the Tibetan plateau with Tibet’s cultural traditions. The preservation network centers on developing collaboration and knowledge transfer of preservation systems, methods, and best practices through education and training. In addition to a preservation network, the program seeks to repatriate the cultural heritage of Tibet with a digital distribution network that includes a multi-language library, an online educational platform, a mobile phone platform, and initiatives for digital and print publications. The goal is to create an informative and enriching digital preservation and distribution program through education and training. At the end of the third year of the program, BDRC surpassed the digital preservation goals of the 5-year program.

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